By Patience Danjuma
The Nigerian maritime sector needs 50,000 seafarers to achieve its full potentials, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara has said.
The Speaker made the remark yesterday at the Public Hearing on two bills – “A Bill For An Act To Establish The Nigeria Maritime University, Okerenkoko In Delta State And For Other Related Matters (HB. 1032)” and “A Bill For An Act To Establish The Maritime University, Oron Akwa Ibom State And To Make Comprehensive Provisions For Its Management And Administration And Other Related Matters.”
According to the Speaker, “Maritime Sector is key in achieving the Federal government’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan that was launched in March this year 2017. Availability of requisite trained manpower in sufficient numbers is key to the growth and sustenance of Nigeria’s maritime sector.
“From Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) records, Nigeria needs about 50,000 Seafarers for the Nigerian Shipping Industry to realize its full potentials. As at 2009, Nigeria had less than 3,000 Seafarers.
“The National Assembly in 2003 enacted the Cabotage Act to ensure the participation of our Nationals in domestic Shipping (Coastal and Inland) by reserving crewing to only Nigerians. Over time, however, there has been shortage of manpower and persons with requisite skills and training to meet the desired expectations of Cabotage.
“In an effort to fill this gap, government initiated a program; Nigeria Seafarers Development Program (NSDP) through the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). This program entails sending out Nigerians to study maritime courses such as Nautical Science, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering in foreign Universities. This has resulted in the government spending huge sums of money in foreign currency, which is very scarce.
“The purpose of these two Bills aforementioned above therefore is to fill the gap in the manpower requirements of the maritime sector. The proposed Nigeria Maritime University to be located in Okerenkoko Warri, Delta State is a brand new school which intends to provide maritime academic training, facilities and indeed infrastructure as required by the International Maritime Organization (IMOs) under STCW Conventions.
“For the Maritime University, Oron Akwa Ibom State, the Bill seeks to upgrade the existing Maritime Academy of Nigeria, (MAN) Oron to a degree awarding institution. This initiative will at the same time provide upgraded facilities and teaching aids as required by IMOs STCW Convention (The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers) 1978 which sets qualification standards for Masters, Officers and Watch Personnel on seagoing merchant ships. ”
Dogara who said the Convention was significantly amended in 1995 and 2010 noted that the global maritime economy has become increasingly knowledge driven, necessitating the production of local high level professionals to meet the challenges.
“Nigeria is a potential maritime power considering our access to limitless maritime resources and waterways, with about 850 km Coastline on the Atlantic Ocean that connects some of the World’s richest economies, and over 3000 km Inland navigable waterways.
“Yet there is no specialized university offering relevant courses at a university level in maritime studies and Engineering, even though Nigeria has about 130 Universities.”
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